Correspondence  |   October 2006
Improving the Success of Retrograde Tracheal Intubation
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Francois Lenfant, M.D., Ph.D.
  • *Hopital General, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Dijon, Dijon, France.
Article Information
Correspondence   |   October 2006
Improving the Success of Retrograde Tracheal Intubation
Anesthesiology 10 2006, Vol.105, 856. doi:
Anesthesiology 10 2006, Vol.105, 856. doi:
In Reply:—
We read with great interest the comments Dr. Nadarajan made regarding our study comparing two techniques for retrograde orotracheal intubation,1 and we thank him for the consideration he gave to our work.1 
Regarding the causes of the failure, we agree that, if the endotracheal tube has not been positioned beneath the vocal cords, the catheter may be difficult to insert or placed in a wrong position, and tracheal intubation will fail. In our study, most of the failures were due to a supraglottic placement of the endotracheal tube as a consequence of a wrong position of the catheter. The size of endotracheal tube was adapted to the patient’s morphology to allow its easy insertion into the trachea, as mentioned in the guidelines related to the airway management edited by the French Society of Anesthesia and Intensive Care.2 The rotation of the endotracheal tube was also used to help the right positioning of the bevel and facilitate its passage between the vocal cords. Also, as discussed in the article,1 we believe that, in alive patients, the analysis of the expired gas at the extremity of the catheter may be of great importance to confirm the correct position of the catheter before removing the guide wire.
The literature regarding the retrograde tracheal intubation is sparse, and to our knowledge, there is no study comparing cricoid and subcricoid approaches in terms of complications, morbidity, and mortality. The subcricoid approach, enhancing the distance between the vocal cords and the site of the puncture, has been proposed to decrease the incidence of accidental extubation during retrograde tracheal intubation.3 If the incidence of failure is decreased, the safety of this approach remains questionable. Regarding the cricoid approach, some of the complications have been reported during minitracheostomy,4,5 and one can suppose that an incision may be more deleterious than a puncture with a needle and the insertion of a guide wire. It is difficult to conclude that the subcricoid approach should be preferred to the cricoid approach for retrograde tracheal intubation, and there are some good reasons to recommend the cricoid approach.6 Because of its superficial localization, the cricothyroid membrane is easy to localize, the risk of accidental puncture of the thyroid gland is very low, and finally, the cricoid approach is easy to learn because the puncture of the cricothyroid membrane is used for other purposes, such as cricoid local anesthesia.
*Hopital General, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Dijon, Dijon, France.
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